Martin Drew, senior vice president sales and cargo, Etihad notes that since he re-joined the cargo sector it is evident the industry has come a long way, with a momentum finally building behind the digital revolution. However, he believes there is still much more to be done.
“During the past year, it became even more apparent why embracing technology is important not only to Etihad Cargo, but to the cargo industry at large, to ensure operations remain smooth and to provide customers with the visibility needed on their shipments to monitor the integrity of the product throughout the journey. But above all, digitalisation is a key part in facilitating a customer’s booking experience,” he explains.
“The launch of the new etihadcargo.com was part of our digitalisation strategy which has seen Etihad Cargo develop and implement tools which have not only streamlined our own internal process, but also provided additional convenience and transparency for our customers.
“In fact, the website received more than 1,500 bookings during its first week, with 600 users choosing to experience the new customer portal. Additionally, our new users have increased by 70% to the new website, compared to the previous period.
“The key to digitalisation and transformation is to ensure the customer remains at the core of the business. The moment digitalisation strategies forget about customers and their needs is when problems arise. At Etihad Cargo, we continually work with our customers and partners to ensure the initiatives that we are developing and working on resonate with them, and add value to their business.”
Online booking presents copious benefits for the user, including accessibility, convenience, transparency and efficiency, but Drew notes that digitalising has a significant impact on sustainability efforts too.
“To date, we are among the top ten airlines global in terms of eAWB penetration, and we are continuing our efforts to explore advanced initiatives that save paper and minimise unnecessary loads on flights to reduce fuel emissions,” he adds.
The pandemic has been a catalyst for change. Drew says it has provided Etihad Cargo with an opportunity to accelerate its plans in launching new third-party booking partnerships, introducing enhancements to its own platforms and apps, and providing its customers with an enhanced and streamlined user experience.
“Our commitment to digitalisation has seen us introduce several transformation programmes across Etihad Cargo. One of the core projects was our front-end systems migration to IBS iCargo, and the introduction of our state-of-the-art Cargo Control Centre which celebrates its second anniversary later this month. Through this facility our team can track, monitor and reports on all of our customer shipments in real-time globally, enabling them to address any flags before they become an issue for our customers.
“Our third-party partnerships through the introduction of Validade, online booking platforms, and other initiatives have presented additional convenience and visibility for our customers, which remains a core focus for our digitalisation strategy.
“We have an ambitious roadmap for 2022 and beyond which will see us exploring various new initiatives, some of which are already being developed, to further innovative functionalities through advancements in AI, ML, and 3D visualisation solutions.”